A Universe Scathed - Part 2
Posted By: Adam Stark<Xvash2@sbcglobal.net>
Date: 7 September 2008, 8:44 am
Preface: I wrote the first part for this ages ago, and I've always been meaning to put up the rest of it. If you would like to read the first part, feel free to go back and read it. Any attempt to find sanity in this piece shall be laughed at thoroughly.
I awoke, by God, I awoke. The impossible happened, I awoke. But, yet, I could not feel myself. A state of suspension I felt I was in? Was I alive? Was I dead? My eyelids crawled up my eyes, allowing the light to pass through my corneas and into the rods and cones. Everything was so white, so bleak, so sterile. I could feel my arms, my legs, my hands, the hairs on my body. I was fucking alive! If only that joy had lasted for just a moment longer. The cold steel wrapped around my ankles and wrists alerted me to the fact that I would have to survive Hell on Earth before I could return once again to my Eden. Dare I flinch? Dare I alert someone of my consciousness? I could not see nor hear a being, so I tested the strength of the iron restraints. They were firm and resilient, but they would bow to my might. I ripped my limbs apart from my prison bed with ease. I ripped off the IVs. However, I froze. I tested my back. Slight pain arose, but it would have to do. I tested my legs, which were still strong and sturdy as I had left them. The windows to my room were barred, and I could see a guard outside. I went into the foot locker next to my bed and extracted my clothes and effects. I changed into my street clothes, which were as I had left them, except for the bullet holes. As for my effects, I took out a small duffel bag and tossed them into there. Zipping it up, I slung it over my shoulder.
I prepared myself. I had to return to Eden. I needed it. I pressed the nurse call button on the side of the bed. A few moments later, she walked in. I spun around in front of her and grabbed her head through her eye sockets, like it was a bowling ball. I threw her head first at the guard, who reacted to the nurse before me. I punched his faced it, before ripping his jaw off. Another guard came running. I threw the bloodied jaw at him, which stunned him with horror. This gave me time to run at him and drive his face into the ground. I wiped the bits of skull and brain onto his jacket, and then proceeded to take his weapon. UNSC-issue M6C, compact, good for security forces. I grabbed his two spare magazines and put them in my pocket. I safetied the weapon and put it in my waistband. I continued down the hall towards the elevators, the few remaining people scattering as I approached. I hit the call button on the elevator, with the light lighting up on the button to signal it had been pressed. The brushed metal doors slid apart, revealing the elevator car to my eyes. I stepped in, turning to face the doors as they closed. The elevator descended several floors, dropping to the ground floor. The doors slid open, the hospital lobby. Several UNSC officers crouched behind desks and chairs, aiming their M6s at my head. I moved to the side of the car, hiding myself from their view, as bullets erupted from their weapons, puncturing the metal in the car, but not me. Several stopped to reload, so I took the opportunity. I stepped out casually, shooting two of the eight in the head. One was behind a column, so I went around and grabbed his lower jaw. I ripped it off, putting my gun to the top of his mouth and letting a few rounds rip through his eyes and sinuses.
I took cover behind the column as other officers began firing again, pushing away the body. I put my M6C around, firing blindly, killing one officer with three bullets to the heart. The other four officers retreated to the entrance of the hospital, spraying the column with fire. They turned their backs to escape but I emptied the clip into their backs, nailing two of them before the magazine ran dry. With the slide of the M6C retracted, I dropped the empty magazine and slammed in a fresh one. I walked out the front doors, no sight of the other two officers that had fled. However, a small crowd had formed, wanting see the action. They vanished also as soon as they saw me and my bloodied hands. I walked to one of their UNSC Police Warthogs. I hit the button ignition, with the engine roaring under me. I peeled off in the vehicle, determined to get out of the city as fast as possible.
I was so busy escaping the city that I never realized I was just delving deeper into the wasteland. I had been at the border, but now I was to the point where all I saw was the road, and dust. I had figured I would drive for about another two hours to the Mercenary encampment deep in the south, before I would head back to the city to finish what I had started. I came upon the outskirts of a lawless place, a prime example of life in the wastelands. There was no room for any of them in the rich, lush north, and so they had been dumped in the deep south. I stopped my vehicle a mile from the outskirts, taking my effects and hiding the car in a small rock formation just off the road. I began walking down the road, not long before a large AMG Jarhead came speeding down the road, kicking up dust. I flagged it down, trying to get a ride into the town. It stopped just a bit ahead of me, so I jogged up to the passenger side. The door popped open, and I climbed in, slinging my duffel onto my feet. The woman driving was clad in burnt and dinged merc armor, no doubt a member of the Guild that called the encampment home. Her words were quick, precise, like a well-trained soldier.
"Where in town you headed?" I'm not sure why, but I smiled at her, clenching my fist as it rested on the armrest of the seat.
"Take me to the Guild dormitories."
"You don't look like a guild merc. What's your number?"
"I'm not a guild merc. That's just where I'm headed."
We took off in the large vehicle, kicking up dust once again, leaving a trail through the air. We quickly arrived in town, speeding down the road before she turned off of it. She parked in the underground garage of the Guild building. Ok, so maybe encampment was an understatement. The mercenaries had earned the resources to call this place a nice small town. I had told her along the way I was going to register to become a mercenary. In truth, I had no intention of doing that at all. I just needed a place to stay until I could get my bearings in this sick world. I followed her up to the Guild Headquarters. She was kind, but it wasn't the sweet girl kind of kind, it was like the kindness you'd expect from someone who kills for money. Her name? I hadn't even bothered to ask. And I didn't need to know just yet.
She led me to the registration area. It was mostly vacant for this time in the evening, populated by the employees and by the kids who wanted to kill. Before the girl and I parted ways, I had to ask.
"I'm sorry; I haven't even gotten your name."
"Name's Karen Richards. Yours?"
"Nick Clausen. See you in another time, yeah?"
"Yeah" And with that, she walked off. I sat down in front of one of the clerks, who ran me through a rather lengthy yet pointless questionnaire. Was I a criminal? My only crimes are against the mundane human laws. I have abided all the laws of humanity. No, I was not a criminal. Age? Thirty-six. Old for a new mercenary? Young enough to kill and still enjoy it. A small "donation" to the guild, and I had my old little place. A hole to sleep in. She gave me a Guild ID card, and off I went, a fake in a town of killers-for-hire. I headed across the street to the Guild Dormitories. Not a tall building, only four or five stories. I quickly found my place. I opened the door. The place smelled of blood and cleaning solvent. Wonderful. I walked in and tossed my bag onto the floor. It was one of the emptier places in the building. No TV, a chatter cable drop, a cot, and a bathroom. I unzipped the bag and pulled out the M6C. I would have to ditch this handgun and buy something new. Police serial numbers are an easy way to get arrested. I quickly dismantled the handgun, but kept the bullets. They have no numbers. I took out the springs and flushed them down the toilet. I etched off the serial number and tossed it down the garbage chute. The rest of the gun would have to be dispersed among the town at a later time. I tossed the duffel onto the cot and walked out of the building. I found myself on a dusty road. It was paved once, but those times are long gone. I walked down the road to the market. Guns, guns, food, armor, the things a mercenary couldn't live without. Some of the deals were pretty good. M247, only cR. 2000. MA3s for as little as cR. 100. Pistols, belt buckles, combat watches, datapads, GI socks. A bazaar of stolen and black market firearms. I spotted an even better deal, and I just had to look more closely.
"Howdy, you don't look like you're from round here. You a merc?" inquired the dealer.
"Yeah, greenhorn," I replied. I paid little attention to him and more attention to the M90A Shotgun on the rack. It was marked at only cR. 250. A normal M90A was cR. 2200. A steal of a deal. "So what's the deal with this shotgun? Why the low price?"
"It was returned by a guy who said he lent it to a friend who was shot the head when the gun jammed on him. I inspected it and it works fine. He thought it had a curse, so I'm just trying to get rid of it."
"Sure, I'll buy it." I handed him my cR. Card, which he withdrew the money from on his datapad. While I was at it, I picked up a box of shells and a new handgun, an M6G. Same ammunition as the 6C, but it was handier and more powerful. I put the shotgun and sidearm into a gun case and carried it back to my room at the Guild dormitories. I tossed the case on the bed next to the duffel, opening it up. The M90A rested on the foam liner, next to the box of shells. I took out a handful of shells and loaded them into the weapon. Protection. The UNSC might come knocking at any moment. I set the shotgun down next to the cot and set the rest of the gear and duffel on the floor. I needed to rest, I had already killed enough today.
I woke quickly. There it was. Another knock at my door. I checked my clock. Seven in the morning? I slept late. I was almost always up by six. I grabbed the shotgun from the side of the bed and hid it under the pillow, a second's reach away.
"Come in, the door is unlocked." In walked a short man, no more than six feet, probably shorter. He introduced himself.
"I'm one of the guild supervisors. Our job is to watch out for the mercenaries under us, make sure they don't fuck up and make the Guild look bad."
"Customer service, eh?"
"Not exactly. More like a babysitter." He paused, pulling out his chatter. He talked into it, glanced at me a few times, before putting it away. "Hey, name's Nick Clausen, right? Could you follow me down to the Guild HQ?"
"Who was that on the chatter?"
"Friend, he wanted to hang out. C'mon, let's go. I snagged one of the prototype M6 Lasers. Shoots through almost anything." He was bluffing. Fucking lying to me.
"I'm going to have to call you on that." I pulled out my shotgun from under the pillow and fired into his torso. He stumbled back into the wall before slouching to the door, bleeding out onto my new floor. One of his hands tried to cover the gaping wound, but he would die shortly. I took his chatter from his pocket and scrolled down to received calls.
Last Received Call: UNSCMP Macerr City HQ. Just as I thought. They know I'm here. I threw the contents of the gun case into the duffel bag and pumped the shotgun. Might have to shoot my way out of town. A few occupants peeked their heads out of their rooms as I ran out and down the hall. My feet flew down the stairs and carried me out of the building. I stopped there for a moment. Where was I supposed to go? I killed a mercenary in a town of mercenaries. Shit, I really should have thought this through. I could head out of town, back into the wasteland. I looked down the street. Several cars were speeding towns the dorms. I sprinted across the street and into the Guild HQ. It was mostly empty at that time in the morning. However, there was the desk clerk, just staring at me. I don't know why, but, she knew, and I had to kill her. The M90A told me to kill her. I pulled the trigger. The elderly woman's face exploded, the left side drooping down, oozing blood. I pumped the gun and ran past the desk. I sprinted down stairs and into the motor pool. I brought the weapon sights to my eye, moving carefully now. A Jarhead pulled into the garage as I stood in the middle of the drive. I aimed toward the driver, their face darkened by the tint. But as they stepped out, I lowered my weapon.
To be continued...